Patients diagnosed with mesothelioma cancer may be told by specialists that nutrition can play an important part in the various courses of asbestosis treatments they receive to treat their cancer. When combined with specific chemotherapy drugs, a group of compounds known as PEITC are known to possess powerful cancer-fighting properties. In some cases, survival rates may be improved too.

For sufferers of fatal, incurable mesothelioma cancer, the benefits of a planned nutritional diet as part of their palliative care not only brings relief from mental and physical pain but has also been shown to bring considerable benefits in providing a better quality of life in the time remaining. Changes made to a mesothelioma patient’s diet can also help with reducing nausea, which is one of the most frequently reported side effects of chemotherapy.

Clinicians continue to research enzymes that form the PEITC anti-cancer compound, which are found in a particular group of vegetables called cruciferous, also known as brassica. There are 3,000 varieties of brassica but only a small number are edible, including brussell sprouts, cabbage, kale, broccoli, watercress, radishes, cauliflower and cress.

Inhibit the growth of tumours

Researchers investigating PEITC in the laboratory have found the compound can inhibit the growth of tumours and cause cancer cells to die. Laboratory mice treated with PEITC have shown a reduction in the development of breast and prostate cancers, and even lung cancer cells can be selectively targeted. Researchers have also confirmed PEITC can be combined with the commonly used chemotherapy drug, Cisplatin, to make a more effective treatment in killing mesothelioma cells than just using the chemo drug on its own.

Not only were the anti-cancer effects significantly increased but also treatment-resistant mesothelioma cells were prevented from forming. Surrounding normal cells displayed no sensitivity to the compound /Cisplatin combination, which suggests that they would be less likely to cause serious side effects if used together in a course of treatment. The ability to ‘target’ cancer cells and not cause damage to normal cells has become an increasingly important approach to any cancer treatment. Mesothelioma treatments have been associated with complications arising from damage caused to healthy cells.

While research continues many mesothelioma patients will still be advised to adopt a specific vegetarian diet carefully planned to a patient’s individual profile based on factors, such as age, weight, height, overall health, and genetics. The most healthy diets are rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, protein and dairy products, and some additional healthy carbohydrates, such as potatoes and whole wheat pasta.

Slow down cancer development

In recent years, certain fruits such as blueberries, goji berries or kiwi fruits may have been hyped up as “superfoods” because of their antioxidant properties. In reality, all fruits and vegetables contain vital nutrients and vitamins needed by the body’s own immune system.

Common fruits and vegetables all contain substances known to help to slow down cancer development. Some researchers consider the cauliflower a so-called superfood because of its vitamin and nutrient-rich, high-fibre content. Crucially, the cauliflower also contains high concentrations of antioxidants and a second compound, both of which are known to have anti-cancer properties. Other compounds found in the cauliflower can produce anti-inflammatory effects and protect cells from DNA damage.

Even the common pea is filled with a resistant starch, which can increase the number of cells containing an anti-inflammatory protein and reduce the size of a cancer tumour. Researchers also think that the pea may also help protect against other malignancies.

Other everyday vegetables, which contain substances known to act as powerful anti cancer agents with the ability to neutralise free radicals in the body, include leeks, rhubarb and artichokes. Studies have also shown that combining mangoes with courses of chemotherapy may increase the rate of cell death in certain cancers.

Comfort and wellbeing can be improved

A number of mesothelioma patients surviving up to five years or more after diagnosis claim their longer than usual life expectancy rate is due to maintaining a strict, vegetarian–based nutritional regime. While most victims may only realistically expect to live for up to 12 months or slightly more from a confirmed diagnosis, nevertheless, their comfort and wellbeing can potentially be improved during most of that period.

General nutritional guidelines recommend that fruits and vegetables make up at least 50 per cent of a daily diet, but it is always vitally important to first take advice from a GP or healthcare specialist.